(Consider that second title my feeble attempt to reference Cream’s “Blue Condition”.)
Alright, I’ll admit it…I am a comic book junkie. Not quite to the degree I was up through my early-ish 20s, but even ever since then, the comic book/graphic novel medium has held a special place in my heart. And if there ever was AND still is an entertainment franchise that has always, ALWAYS deserved its own comic book, it is so Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). Most especially (and obviously, in the case of this place) the original 1969-70 version…although maybe, MAYBE I would give a remake-based comic a chance IF their R&H were written like the old school R&H despite their appearance. Nah…scratch that. It has to be the classic Jeff and Marty that should be portrayed in graphic/print form AND NOBODY ELSE. For cripes’ sake, Mike Pratt and Kenneth Cope’s Jeff and Marty just looked considerably more like men who weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty with the London underworld…
And I will stop there, for if I don’t, I am going to have nothing left for my remake reviews.
Getting back to the subject of comics (no, NOT THEM)…, if there honestly has been and is anything similar to the Randall and Hopkirk concept between Marvel and DC, two characters, one from each company, immediately spring to mind, Moon Knight and Deadman. Moon Knight is Marvel’s virtual answer to “What if Jeff Randall up and decided he was an Ancient Egyptian Batman one day?” OR “What if Jeff Randall embraced his potential insanity over his best friend’s passing AND hearing his voice in his head?”, complete with a Marty Hopkirk-esque white suit whenever he patrols the streets and nighttime as ‘Mr. Knight’. As a matter of fact, I will admit that, in addition to really digging his gameplay mechanics (and having an amazing build on him), that white suit/Mr. Knight outfit is why Moon Knight is one of my utmost favorites to play in the Marvel Heroes MMORPG. But speaking of Hopkirk-esque aesthetics, Deadman is DC’s practical answer to “What if Marty Hopkirk was a superhero?”. Deadman is basically a good guy ghost who was murdered, is invisible/intangible to most people but mystics and psychics, and can possess mortals. The only things keeping Deadman from being completely like Marty are a lack of telekinesis, telepathy, and the ability to generate hurricane force wind; no white suit, no chosen one, and that he had been a stuntman (and his alias comes from that very occupation), not a private investigator when he lived. Yeah, I can hear some of you…what about Spectre and/or Ghost Rider? Ghost Rider is easy-peasy to cross out here (as much as I also like playing him in Marvel Heroes), yes he is a supernatural character and has ‘ghost’ in his alias, but that is definitely where any and all ‘similarity’ begins and ends. Spectre…yes, he is ghost-like AND his name is a synonym of ghost, but I would make the argument that apart from being able to possess mortal beings too, he is a bit too godlike to be compared to Marty Hopkirk and other spirit types.
But enough comparing and contrasting…well, ok, a little more: As will be discussed in this blog a bit time and again, it is such a royal shame that the original Randall and Hopkirk did not receive nearly as much promotion and merchandise during its time as the remake did in its time. If there is any area in which this could have been remedied, even if just by a tiny measure, it is most certainly comic publishing. Especially considering the numerous upon numerous 60s television shows that did manage to get their own comic books…including, on the ITC front, The Saint, The Prisoner, The Champions, Department S, and The Persuaders(!). Yes, you read that right, the Champions, the Persuaders(!) (ok, I know the Persuaders(!) are 70s, but they’re still definitely worth mentioning), and even R&H’s production ‘sibling’, Jason King and Friends* have, once upon a time, had their own comics…all the more proof that some things you just can’t make up. But that said, it just makes it all that much more ‘Oh, what could have been…’ about Randall and Hopkirk having a comic that could have boosted their original and best show, or at the very least kept it in the public conscious to up the demand for a much deserved second season/series (something else that will be talked about a bit time and again as well). Not to mention that it would have be downright neat to see Jeff/Mike Pratt, Marty/Kenneth Cope, and Jeannie/Annette Andre illustrated in that gorgeous, detailed, even at times psychedelic 60s/70s comic art style, the likes of which will never be seen again.
Believe it or not, I do not think a Randall and Hopkirk comic book/graphic novel is all that impossible today, especially as well as independent comics are doing versus Marvel and DC currently. My most enormous concern about such a thing would far and away be how true to the original (and again, BEST) source material it would end up being. In my mind, the utmost PERFECT 2017-forward Randall and Hopkirk graphic novel/comic book series would be true to the source material and utilize art that is modern, yet remarkably and very appropriately retro. That said, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages, let me quite happily and proudly introduce one of the absolute best Randall and Hopkirk discoveries I have made in awhile, if not ever in the art of Icy Twaine!
This would be and is a BRILLIANT first issue cover for a potential Randall and Hopkirk published medium. Preferably of the graphic/illustrative nature, but it just dawned on me that a properly done novelization would be downright fun to read as well. To say I love this would-and-should-be-cover is putting it mildly…I particularly dig the lilies in the lower right corner. What a nifty touch in all of its symbolism.
And this is not to say that the near-entire Edwin Astley original R&H soundtrack being on Spotify is not an awesome discovery in and of itself…but really and seriously, just look at this would-and-should-be-cover in the fourteenth (sixth in the production order) installment of the what-if R&H comic/novel series…
How could anyone, lifelong lover of this franchise or novice viewer/reader, not be remotely pulled in by these illustrations? The just absolutely perfect melding of modern with retro is breathtaking. And in its own wonderfully weird way, it just somehow fits Jeff and Marty, their adventures, and even their more humorous exchanges.
Bar none the best way to introduce Randall and Hopkirk to a younger audience (as well as just purely delicious art for longtime appreciators like yours truly)…today, comics/novels with simply fabulous art tailor made for now AND then just like this, tomorrow, the Blu-Rays or even Netflix carrying the 1969-70 series for much deserved new viewers alongside the perpetual ones.
Oh, and we certainly can’t leave out Jeannie, can we?
Caroline “Welp…well, I guess Wyngarde and Co. won THAT much of the ‘sibling rivalry’.” Smith
* – Granted, it was not a regular comic, but a one-off in a Thunderbirds Annual…but still…Marty?